Cal Poly Pomona turf student wins Toro Super Bowl training program

The Toro Company has announced this year’s winner of the annual Toro Super Bowl* Sports Turfgrass Training Program. Sean McLaughlin, a plant science major at California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona), was selected and will be on hand at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, for Super Bowl LI to assist the grounds crew in field preparations.

Since 1967, Toro has partnered with the National Football League (NFL) to provide equipment and expertise to help prepare the game field and multiple practice fields leading up to the biggest professional football game of the year. In 2003, Toro and the NFL established the Super Bowl Sports Turfgrass Training Program. Developed to recognize one student who has shown exemplary leadership in turfgrass management, the program encourages emerging professionals to further grow their knowledge base by assisting the grounds crew for this high-profile game. McLaughlin will work alongside NFL field director Ed Mangan, George Toma and the Super Bowl grounds crew at NRG Stadium on turfgrass maintenance, logo painting, field preparation for media day, halftime preparation and field clean-up.

“I learned about the internship a little bit past the deadline last year, and was extremely excited to enter it this year,” said McLaughlin. “Having the opportunity to work alongside legends like George Toma and Ed Mangan for the game of games is an indescribable feeling. I’m really looking forward to taking it all in, and learning everything I can during my time there.”

McLaughlin is scheduled to graduate from Cal Poly Pomona and Mount San Antonio College in May of 2017. He currently holds grounds keeping and grounds crew positions at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the Los Angeles Rams and USC Trojans; Mount San Antonio College, Center for Turfgrass, Irrigation and Landscape Technology facility at Cal Poly Pomona; and the Rose Bowl Stadium.  Additionally, McLaughlin has been recognized a number of times for his dedication to his craft. Most recently, he was awarded first place in the 2016 STMA Student Challenge and, in 2015, was recognized as Turf Student of the Year at Mount San Antonio College.

To be considered for the program, entrants had to undergo a comprehensive application process. Due to McLaughlin’s ongoing success in school and ambition to pursue a career in turfgrass management, he was selected from a large pool of talented candidates. Applicants must be enrolled in at least the second year of a two-year turfgrass program, or in at least the junior year of a four-year turfgrass program.

“An opportunity like this only comes around once,” says Dale Getz, CSFM, sports fields and grounds sales manager at Toro. “Students within the turfgrass industry have benefited from Toro’s partnership with the NFL for the past 15 years, and Toro is pleased to support and aide in the development of future turfgrass professionals.”

This is the 16th year that Toro and the NFL have provided this opportunity for students in the field of turfgrass management.